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Harlequin Presents January 2015 Box Set 3 of 4(255)

By:Lynne Graham

The couple’s first child tragically died three years ago         after a premature birth. A steady stream of friends and well-wishers have         been visiting the hospital all day, with flowers and gifts for the happy         family.

PUTTING THE NEWSPAPER down on the hospital bed, Lottie looked     across at Rafael, who was cradling their baby in his arms, rocking slightly from     side to side as he gazed into his son’s sleeping face. They looked so right     together, a perfect fit, with that small bundle of life snuggled against the     powerfully muscled arms of his father. The present and the future. Lottie could     already see the trouble they were going to cause her. And she couldn’t wait.

‘I meant to say, my mother rang this morning to congratulate     us.’

‘Greta? That was nice of her.’

‘Yes, I was quite surprised, actually. I’d never really thought     of her as granny material, but she seemed genuinely excited. She’s even talking     about paying us a visit.’

‘I’ll have to practise my best behaviour.’ Rafael gave her a     schoolboy grin over the top of the baby’s head, leaving Lottie in no doubt that     her mother would be totally charmed by him.

‘And Alex, of course—she’s been on the phone, demanding photos     of Valentine and all the gruesome birth details. I think I’ve managed to put her     off the idea of ever having a baby.’

‘Some friend you are.’ Rafael laughed. ‘But, seriously, you     were magnificent, Lottie. I can’t tell you how proud I am of you.’

‘That’s because I had you there with me. And I would do it a     thousand times over—because look what we got.’ She tipped her head on one     side.

‘I can’t stop looking.’ Rafael returned his gaze to his son and     there was a tender pause. ‘I think he takes after you, you know—those beautiful     wide eyes. And look at his tiny nose, and his lips, and his little ears.’

‘So you approve, then?’

As he glanced up again Lottie saw that his eyes were shining     with emotion, and when she saw his slight shake of the head and deep swallow she     knew he was struggling to find the words.

‘I can still hardly believe it. That he is really ours, Lottie,     yours and mine.’

‘Well, you’d better believe it. Especially when he is screaming     his head off at three in the morning. And Valentine looks more like     you, just for the record. That certainly isn’t my hair!’

Rafael protectively smoothed his hand over his son’s shock of     dark hair, then watched as it sprang back to upright. ‘Listen to your         mamma, being rude about your hair. You and I both know you are     perfect in every way.’

‘He really is...’ Lottie sighed with exhausted pleasure and     laid her head back on the pillow. ‘We did good, didn’t we?’

‘We did more than good.’

Sitting on the edge of the bed with the baby in his arms, he     leant forward to kiss Lottie tenderly on the lips.

‘We did assolutamente magnifico. And this is just the     start, Lottie—the start of a wonderful life together: you, me and our son. A     proper family at last. Now and for ever.

* * * * *

Keep reading for an excerpt from SHEIKH’S DESERT DUTY by Maisey     Yates.

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SHEIKH ZAYN AL-AHMAR had many regrets in his life. The kind of regrets that reached into the darkness in the middle of the night, and tried to strangle him while he slept. The kind of regrets that followed him all through the day, and informed his every action; constant reminders of why he’d had to leave the old version of himself behind, and become something entirely different.